Ten US states mull joint approach on lifting restrictions; Europe starts on early ‘balancing act’


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In top stories today:

  • Ten US states on the East and West coasts plan to work on a joint approach to reopen the economy gradually. Not their decision to make, US President Donald J. Trump said during a testy press conference. Lockdowns in Europe were extended even as some countries started on tentative steps to reopen some economic activity while remaining wary of new infections of coronavirus.
  • QUOTE:  “Nobody has been here before, nobody has all the answers,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on a conference call with five other governors, Reuters reported. “Addressing public health and the economy: Which one is first? They’re both first.”
  • Ten states including New York and California joined forces in two regional pacts to work on a strategy to lift coronavirus restrictions gradually, Reuters reported. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, along with Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island said on April 13 they would form a regional panel to work on a strategy to lift coronavirus restrictions gradually, Reuters reported.
  • Massachusetts later said it was joining the East Coast group. California, Oregon, and Washington said they too will work on a shared approach, the newswire reported.
  • Restarting the economy was his decision to make, President Donald J. Trump said on Twitter, adding later that he’s working closely with the governors, Reuters reported. Legal experts say the president has quite limited powers in that respect, the newswire reported. The ten states, which have given no timeline for lifting restrictions, have a population of more than 100 million, Reuters said.  
  • The statistics say… Coronavirus cases in the United States rose by 5.6 percent to 572,169 as of 4pm ET on April 13 from the day before, compared with the 7.4 percent average daily increase over the past week. Cases in New York increased by 3.3 percent, about half the rate a week ago. Deaths in the United States rose 7.3 percent to 23,070, according to Bloomberg.


  • The global tracker of coronavirus cases and deaths run by John Hopkins University now includes the total number of tests conducted for the virus in the United States. That now stands at almost 3 million, led by New York at approaching 480,000 tests, followed by California and Florida about level and close to 200,000.
  • “Fragile, partial, and slow” is how The Wall Street Journal describes the reopening of the economy. “The new normal will look anything but” as possibilities range from alternating groups of office workers, restaurants at half capacity and with plexiglass shields between tables to a Major League Baseball season without spectators, the newspaper reported.
  • Amazon will start to allow the shipping of so-called non-essential items, in a sign that the company is getting ready to meet broader consumer needs, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Amazon confirmed the plans, the newspaper added.
  • Decisions about reopening the economy are complicated by the fact that each country has its own “coronavirus arc,” the Associated Press reported. The UK, Japan, and parts of the United States are still recording increases in daily infections or deaths, while France and New York hope they are levelling off, even if the plateau of daily deaths is high, AP said.
  • Grim news about the economy is still with us. Advanced economies will shrink by about 35 percent this quarter compared with the previous three months, or at four times the rate during the 2008 financial crisis, Bloomberg cited investment bank Goldman Sachs as saying in a note to clients dated April 13.


  • A balancing act is needed between preventing further infections and halting further damage to the economy. That’s what leaders in Europe face too, Bloomberg reported. Austria and Denmark are beginning to reopen some schools and shops this week, while French President Emmanuel Macron said he wants to ease restrictions from May 11.
  • Workers in some non-essential industries including construction returned to work in Spain on April 13, the Associated Press reported. It’s the first among the hardest-hit countries in Europe to lift some restrictions, the Financial Times reported.
  • Spain posted its lowest number of deaths in more than three weeks on April 14 and the number of new cases in Europe has stabilized in recent days, Bloomberg said. Still, more than 50,000 have died in Europe and the death toll is still increasing, the newswire reported.
  • France extended its national lockdown until May 11, following Italy which last week renewed stringent social distancing restrictions there until May 3, the Financial Times (FT) reported. That day, however, Italy said its death toll increased by 566 in the previous twenty-four hours, a “disconcerting increase,” the FT said, compared with 432 fatalities reported on April 12.
  • UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, deputizing on day-to-day decisions while Prime Minister Boris Johnson recovers from coronavirus, said restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future, the newspaper reported.
  • The lockdown may be extended into early or perhaps even late May as the total number of deaths in UK hospitals exceeds 11,000, CNBC reported.
  • READ MORE: “As the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting economic crisis continue to rage, European leaders will have ample opportunities to show a united front in their efforts to recover from this emergency, but they must first decide how they can resolve the continued fault lines between them,” writes the Atlantic Council’s David A. Wemer.
  • QUOTE: “While there are many good ‘national’ responses, such as the US monetary and fiscal actions, the sum of the national parts could be greater with multilateral cooperation,” said Mark Sobel, a former US Treasury Department official now at the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, a London-based think tank, The Wall Street Journal reported. “This time, nations are acting, but the common vision is wanting.”


  • (Hopeful) things happen in threes? Of the seventy vaccines in development worldwide, three are already at the human trial stage, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Bloomberg reported. An experimental vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Technology has made the most progress in the clinical process, the newswire said. The other two are developed by Moderna on the one hand, Inovio Pharmaceuticals on the other, Bloomberg reported, citing a WHO document.
  • BCG. It’s short for bacille Calmette-Guérin and is the tuberculosis vaccine that’s been around for years, news service Stat reported. Researchers in Australia and the Netherlands are investigating whether the BCG could give a powerful boost to the immune system against coronavirus, Stat said.
  • The Wall Street Journal runs a story about research into whether warmer temperatures affect coronavirus. It’s not a yes or no question, the newspaper said. Among the many complications: some cooler countries are testing more for the virus, which may account for their higher rates of infection, The  Wall Street Journal reported. As for hydroxychloroquine, an old malaria drug touted by President Donald J. Trump as a “game-changer” in the fight against coronavirus, the Financial Times asks if it’s that or a dangerous gamble.


  • India extended its twenty-one-day lockdown, due to expire on April 14, until May 3, CBNC reported. The country needs to be “very vigilant” about hot spots of infection, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an address to citizens, CNBC added.
  • Healthcare workers in India are coming under physical and verbal attack as the stigma around coronavirus grows in the country and people fear catching the virus from them, Bloomberg reported.
  • The Group of Twenty (G20) group of industrialized nations is nearing an agreement to freeze debt payments for six or nine months by emerging market nations, the Financial Times reported on April 12. The plan is due to be finalized at a meeting of G20 finance ministers this week, the newspaper said. Analysts say China, at the top of Africa’s list of creditors, is in the driving seat on reaching a deal, Reuters reported.
  • QUOTE:  “The pandemic reveals that key institutions in Europe and the U.S. are no longer up to the job,” write John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, Bloomberg reported. “It matters enormously whether your country has a good health service, competent bureaucrats and sound finances. Good government is the difference between living and dying.”